View Poll Results: What battle was the most decisive in the outcome of the American Civil War?

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  • Fredericksburg

    1 1.82%
  • Antietam

    10 18.18%
  • Vicksburg

    8 14.55%
  • Gettysburg

    27 49.09%
  • Atlanta

    3 5.45%
  • Franklin

    5 9.09%
  • Shiloh

    1 1.82%
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Thread: Most Decisive US Civil War Battle

  1. #61
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    But the war could've - and should've - ended the next year, at Sharpsburg. It was pathetic that it did NOT end there, and eighteen months isn't a particularly long civil war, so although being longer than what was anticipated, it need not have necessarily been 'decided' at Bull Run that the war was going to go over four years.
    Okay, decided that the Union was overconfident and just plain old silly.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  2. #62
    Military Professional ExNavyAmerican's Avatar
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    Vicksburg ceased to be a port in late 1862 once the Union forces arrived there. The fighting earlier 1862 around Island No. 10 was hardly indecisive. And Teh 49 day siege at Port Hudson which fell on 9 July 1863 was easily as terrible as the Vicksburg siege. While it did not feature the manuever battles of Vicksburg, this success was what actually opened the river.
    I know. I was talking about AFTER these battles were fought. I've read about 100 (seriously) civil war books, and I am aware that these battles were important. However, at the time of the Fall of Vicksburg, it was the only major port left on the river. Though it had been invested for a while, the river could not have come under complete Union control with a hostil port in the middle of it.

    Good Lord people. Give me some credit.

    deadkenny;

    After Vicksburg, the best the South could have hoped for was the independence of the cotton states.. Because the Union had control of most of Louisiana, some of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The North's advantages in manpower, and industry were all the north needed to eventually defeat the south(post-war annexation included).
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
    - Thomas Jefferson

  3. #63
    Military Professional ExNavyAmerican's Avatar
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    By the way, in this case, when we say "decisive", do we mean decisive as in a turning point? Because the usual mening of "decisive battle" is a battle that was a one-sided victory. If that's the case, then Fredricksburg is a very decisive battle, whereas Antietam was a tactical defeat for the Union.

    I've been posting as if the meaning here was referring to a turning point victory, but it just occurred to me that I had misunderstood the meaning.
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
    - Thomas Jefferson

  4. #64
    Banned deadkenny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    I know. I was talking about AFTER these battles were fought. I've read about 100 (seriously) civil war books, and I am aware that these battles were important. However, at the time of the Fall of Vicksburg, it was the only major port left on the river. Though it had been invested for a while, the river could not have come under complete Union control with a hostil port in the middle of it.

    Good Lord people. Give me some credit.
    Fair enough, however, I guess the key point is that Port Hudson needed to fall as well to give the Union complete control from top to bottom. Taking Vicksburg was necessary but not sufficient, and Port Hudson was taken after Vicksburg, in a separate action.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    deadkenny;

    After Vicksburg, the best the South could have hoped for was the independence of the cotton states.. Because the Union had control of most of Louisiana, some of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The North's advantages in manpower, and industry were all the north needed to eventually defeat the south (post-war annexation included).
    Sure, IF the Union maintained their determination to fight to the end, the Confederacy was doomed. Lincoln could probably be counted on to fight it out to the end no matter how long it took or how much it cost. However, since there was an election in 1864, and there was actually a more ‘conciliatory’ party running, you can’t assume that fighting it out to the bitter end was a foregone conclusion. Arkansas, and much of Louisiana, is west of the Miss, and thus effectively lost to the CSA after Vicksburg. Kentucky was not a Confederate state. Tenn was still being fought over, at least until after Chattanooga (which is the very scenario being discussed).

    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    By the way, in this case, when we say "decisive", do we mean decisive as in a turning point? Because the usual mening of "decisive battle" is a battle that was a one-sided victory. If that's the case, then Fredricksburg is a very decisive battle, whereas Antietam was a tactical defeat for the Union.

    I've been posting as if the meaning here was referring to a turning point victory, but it just occurred to me that I had misunderstood the meaning.
    Most of these sorts of threads have criteria which are not precisely defined. Having said that, Shek has done a pretty good job of elaborating on what was intended in the first post of this thread. It has more to do with the effect a particular battle had on the outcome of the war, rather than a more limited perspective of the battle itself. Thus, a crushing defeat of the Union on the battlefield might not have affected the course of the war beyond prolonging it for long enough for the Union to lick its wounds and come back for more. On the other hand, a less ‘extreme’ victory could potentially have implications on the course of the war. Thus, the real impact of Antietam was more on the diplomatic situation in Europe than on the battlefield itself.

  5. #65
    Military Professional ExNavyAmerican's Avatar
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    Most of these sorts of threads have criteria which are not precisely defined. Having said that, Shek has done a pretty good job of elaborating on what was intended in the first post of this thread. It has more to do with the effect a particular battle had on the outcome of the war, rather than a more limited perspective of the battle itself. Thus, a crushing defeat of the Union on the battlefield might not have affected the course of the war beyond prolonging it for long enough for the Union to lick its wounds and come back for more. On the other hand, a less ‘extreme’ victory could potentially have implications on the course of the war. Thus, the real impact of Antietam was more on the diplomatic situation in Europe than on the battlefield itself.
    Okay, thanks. That's what I thought, but I thought it est to make sure.

    Edit: Shek did mention it. sorry.
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
    - Thomas Jefferson

  6. #66
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    Fair enough, however, I guess the key point is that Port Hudson needed to fall as well to give the Union complete control from top to bottom. Taking Vicksburg was necessary but not sufficient, and Port Hudson was taken after Vicksburg, in a separate action.
    Agreed. They both needed to fall. But with one gone, the next was sure to come as was proven with that exact occurence. If Port Hudson had fallen first, imo, I'd be supporting that one as the most important battle, right now.

    Sure, IF the Union maintained their determination to fight to the end, the Confederacy was doomed. Lincoln could probably be counted on to fight it out to the end no matter how long it took or how much it cost. However, since there was an election in 1864, and there was actually a more ‘conciliatory’ party running, you can’t assume that fighting it out to the bitter end was a foregone conclusion. Arkansas, and much of Louisiana, is west of the Miss, and thus effectively lost to the CSA after Vicksburg. Kentucky was not a Confederate state. Tenn was still being fought over, at least until after Chattanooga (which is the very scenario being discussed).
    I agree. If Chatanooga had been lost, Lincoln would have lost the election, and the war would have ended. But even then, we still had control of the better part of the Confederacy, and though the war probably would have ended, the Confederacy would have been much smaller than its original size.
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
    - Thomas Jefferson

  7. #67
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    I'd say Vicksburg. It cut the Confederacy in two, hampering the move of needed goods from Texas back east. It also gave the Union control of the Mississippi, for trade and moving troops.
    The idea of wilderness needs no defense; only more defenders.
    -Edward Abbey

  8. #68
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adalwolf View Post
    I'd say Vicksburg. It cut the Confederacy in two, hampering the move of needed goods from Texas back east. It also gave the Union control of the Mississippi, for trade and moving troops.
    That was the SEIGE of Vicksburg. Not, properly speaking a battle.

  9. #69
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    Antietam and the soon folowing "Emancipation Proclamation", it killed the confederate hope sof international recognition and legitimacy. It dooemd them to never being more than rebels.

  10. #70
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Antietam and the soon folowing "Emancipation Proclamation", it killed the confederate hope sof international recognition and legitimacy. It dooemd them to never being more than rebels.
    No. The Confederacy STILL could've won the war, and they almost did, twice. Therefore, not decisive.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    No. The Confederacy STILL could've won the war, and they almost did, twice. Therefore, not decisive.
    Without international recognition forcing Lincoln to stop, the Confederacy was doomed by simple math. By the end of the war the South was running on a scavanger economy, it could not have kept this up forever.

  12. #72
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Without international recognition forcing Lincoln to stop, the Confederacy was doomed by simple math. By the end of the war the South was running on a scavanger economy, it could not have kept this up forever.
    Disagree. Oh, the odds were long, but remember: if Lincoln had lost the '64 election, the Confederacy would be an established FACT - they would have won.

    So, no, they weren't doomed, as they almost DID win, even alone, with no foreign intervention.

    Important? Certainly. But it didn't decide the issue; it could've still gone the other way, and almost did, on more than one occasion. Therefore, not decisive.

  13. #73
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    Antietam was politically decisive because it forced Europe to end any plans to recognize the confederacy. Britain would not recognize them until the South had abolished slavery. And the chances of that happening are the same as pigs flying. Antietam was only important militarily because it ended the South's invasion of the North, which of course was important but not even close to being decisive. Another reason Antietam was politically important was because of the mere fact that the south invaded the north -the confederacy automatically became hypocritical because they were "marching into other states and tyrannizing other people". Automatically making their cause as fluid as water.
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
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  14. #74
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExNavyAmerican View Post
    Antietam was politically decisive because it forced Europe to end any plans to recognize the confederacy. Britain would not recognize them until the South had abolished slavery. And the chances of that happening are the same as pigs flying. Antietam was only important militarily because it ended the South's invasion of the North, which of course was important but not even close to being decisive. Another reason Antietam was politically important was because of the mere fact that the south invaded the north -the confederacy automatically became hypocritical because they were "marching into other states and tyrannizing other people". Automatically making their cause as fluid as water.
    Not sure if you're backing up MY point, or zraver's. All of what you wrote is true, and I already knew it. But none of it refutes my point that Antietam/Sharpsburg didn't decide the outcome of the war. It wasn't the one battle that, after it was fought, there was no other outcome possible. That specification can belong to no other battle than Franklin.

    Because once THAT was fought, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, was going to see the Confederacy win its independence. The war was then DECIDED; it was just a matter of playing it out to the inevitable end.

  15. #75
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    I was backing yours.
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
    - Thomas Jefferson

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